Flyers Sign Final RFA Travis Konecny to 6-Year Contract
In the immortal words of Bill Clement, "How do you spell money?" K-O-N-E-C-N-Y!"
Just a few days after reportedly being far apart in contract talks, the Philadelphia Flyers and winger Travis Konecny have agreed to a 6-year, $33 million contract, carrying a cap hit of $5.5 million.
Like Ivan Provorov (who also just signed a 6-year contract last week), Konecny was taken by the Flyers in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. After a stellar draft plus one season in the OHL and a strong 2016 training camp, Konecny made the NHL at 19 years old. His first year was full of ups and downs. He scored a respectable 28 points in 70 games, mixing a high level of speed and skill with some defensive mistakes that saw Dave Hakstol send him to the press box on multiple occasions.
In his second season, Konecny broke out. Again, like Provorov, Konecny's season took a turn for the better on December 23, 2018, when he was given the chance to play with high-end talent in a bigger role, specifically joining Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. The line absolutely lit the world on fire, ranking as one of the best lines in hockey over the last two seasons by both the eye test and common advanced stats such as Corsi and Expected Goals.
Injuries and a coaching change resulted in that line playing less frequently together a year ago. But Konecny proved he could still produce, tallying 24 goals for the second consecutive season and a slight increase in points (47 in 17-18, 49 in 18-19), while being one of the few Flyers to win the shot attempt battle while on the ice last year (50.3% Corsi For).
Konecny brings a unique mix of speed, skill and spunk to the table that few players in the NHL do. It's a style of play that appeals to young and old fans alike. He's an incredibly dynamic offensive talent who can dangle around the best defenders this league has to offer. His shot once lacked confidence, but over the last season and a half Konecny has become arguably the Flyers best pure sniper. His 39 5-on-5 goals over the last two years are tops on the Flyers. With a full season of top-six duty and an improved second power play unit (or even establishing a role on top unit), and Konecny could fly by the 60 point mark with ease, turning this contract into a steal.
Even if he doesn't become a dramatically better player than what he's shown over the past two seasons, $5.5 million is certainly a reasonable price for what Konecny has to offer. The contract buys out what would be Konecny's first two years to become an unrestricted free agent, affirming the mutual appreciation the Flyers (and the city of Philadelphia) and Konecny have for each other.
Some may be concerned by the ominous messages Alain Vigneault has said about Konecny. The Flyers new head coach explicitly expressed his disappointment that Konecny wasn't present for the first three days of training camp. However, TK's work ethic in the past (and his natural talent) has never been a problem in the past. I highly doubt Fletcher would've offered such a lucrative, long-term contract if he thought there might be any hard feelings between the two long term. This will be water under the bridge before you know it.
Going forward, Konecny's contract $1.167 million of cap space, per CapFriendly. That roster includes eight defenseman, two goalies, and eleven forwards - the ten locks for the team, as well as veteran Kurtis Gabriel. That means whichever two bubble players make the team - some combination of Gabriel, Andy Andreoff, Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, Mikhail Vorobyev, and Nicolas Aubé-Kubel - the Flyers will be able to afford them. The only caveat is that veteran Chris Stewart is on a PTO and would need to sign a contract in order to stick around if the Flyers deem him worth. But that shouldn't come in much higher than league minimum ($700K), leaving Fletcher's new-look Flyers pressed against the cap ceiling (assuming Philadelphia carries a full 23-man roster), making adding to the team nearly impossible.
Unlike Provorov, much of the risk of this signing is void because we already know Travis Konecny's floor. Even if he fails to improve much going forward, Konecny is a solid top-six forward with a great shot and excellent speed who can drive play at a decent clip. With the right linemates and opportunity, TK has the natural talent to become a 70-plus point player in the near future. Inking him to a great contract like this solidifies the Flyers stellar forward depth, and finally allows the organization to turn the page towards on-ice success for the 2019-20 campaign.